NEWDELHI :The tabletop runway at Calicut International airport where an Air India Express flight skidded while landing on Friday, resulting in the death of 18 people, was flagged unsafe for flight operations in an aviation safety report submitted to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2011.

The said runway had been flagged unsafe due to the inadequate safety area along and at the end of it to safeguard against planes skidding off.

“The down slope at the end of the runway 10, on which the accident took place, has a very steep down slope. There is only a 90 metre safety area at the end of the runway, which should be at least 200 metres. Similarly, on both sides of the runway there is only 75 metre of safety area, when that should be at least 150 metres,” The Hindu quoted aviation safety expert Mohan Ranganathan, who prepared the as part of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Committee, as saying.

In a letter written to the then Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Naseem Zaidi, Ranganathan had highlighted that the runway strip was just “half the minimum width laid down” and that there was no effort on the part of Airport Authority of India to rectify the safety infringements.

Ranganathan had mentioned that landing in wet and tailwind conditions on the runway could be a safety hazard.

Earlier this year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had ordered a safety audit of airports after several of them  saw instances of aircraft overshooting the runway or skidding during heavy rains.

18 people, including the pilot and co-pilot, were killed after an Air India Express plane skidded off the runway at Calicut International airport in Kerala’s Kozhikode while landing in heavy rains and fell into a valley 35 feet below, breaking into two pieces.

The flight was operating under the Vande Bharat mission to bring home Indian nationals stranded in gulf countries amid the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

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